The purpose of PETER PAN is to provide a convenient means for pilots and all users of air transport in Europe to obtain access to ATM and other related information through public access networks (PANs).
The PETER PAN project started in February 1995 by investigating the users' needs and the state-of-the-art in telematics for availability and dissemination of operational data, as well as capacity of public access networks to handle the information.
Specification of the architecture of the PETER PAN prototype was based on the essential needs that had been identified and several positive evolutions in the technical and telematics fields:
- The Internet WWW that the project intended to use for dissemination of the data in the PETER PAN prototype had come into widespread use, and many national telephone operators had started an ambitious campaign to extend the telephone bandwidths to support medium speed modems (14.4 kbps).
- The cost of WWW servers started to drop drastically, adding more and more functions for the same price.
- Several data providers (specially Meteo-France) had also initiated work to make their data accessible over the WWW.
These elements converged to make the PETER PAN prototype specially adequate for public dissemination, leading to the architecture of PETER PAN being defined as follows:
PETER PAN will not be a monolithic centralised system. Instead, there will be as many PETER PAN systems as necessary, each one servicing a zone of influence and connected to the private networks of the operational information providers and to the public network. The separation between the two will be achieved by means of a 'firewall' technique that is already widely used in the banking industry.
The consortium members are now following an iterative process that combines specification refinement with the design and implementation steps in order to achieve a prototype demonstration as soon as possible, with validation scheduled for April/May and synthesis by end-June 1996. In this process, information providers were selected for their significance, but also for their ability to be connected to the PETER PAN prototype in the shortest possible time. Their systems provide meteo data, NOTAMs, and FPL filing services and can be reached wherever in Europe with an X25 data line. PETER PAN will interface to these systems and offer an integrated view to pilots, over European public access networks.
The rapid growth of the World Wide Web (WWW) provides a low-cost network in Europe that can be used to disseminate information, provided that some caution is used. The benefits to be expected are:
- harmonisation of flight information
- regional economic growth support
- traffic flow efficiency increase
- increased flight safety
- spin-offs for multi-modal transportation information.
Planned future work and results
The PETER PAN prototype will be located in Pointoise (near Paris), a small airport with a very active population of private pilots, with many intra-European flights. This prototype will be connected to operational data providers and will itself act as a dissemination server for WWW users. Due to limited funding, this prototype will not cover the full range of information that might be needed. However, it will carry the three most useful needs for a pilot and for ATC in flight plan preparation: meteo consultation, NOTAM consultation and flight plan filing. Services will be offered over the WWW. The expected impact on the transport world is to show that public access networks at this stage can provide an efficient means to gather information from many sources and offer a single entry point to the public.
Exploitation potential and plans
PETER PAN has the potential to be used for gathering information from many sources and to present the data in a coherent way to the mass user. This coherency of presentation of information makes it greater than the sum of its parts and, as in Internet, attracts more clients to the existing services. PETER PAN can be extended to gather and understand more information about providers' formats, especially to airport management and services. It can then be regarded as a tool to attract investors and visitors to a region. The airports at Avignon, Cannes and Pontoise are reported to have strong interest in having a PETER PAN demonstrator for evaluation.